By Moumita Burman and Arun Teja Polcumpally
Hyderabad: Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy, and Telangana state is no exception. The state’s agricultural sector has seen significant growth and evolution over the years, with the government playing a vital role in the sector’s development. It is interesting to note that the Telangana State, which was a barren land a decade earlier, is now a lush green state.
As per the Socio-Economic Outlook of 2023, more than 60% of the rural population in the state of Telangana works in agriculture and related industries. The Gross State Value Added (GSVA) of the agriculture and allied sectors has increased by 186% since its inception, making it a significant contributor to the GSDP. The production of total food grains in 2020-21 was 1274.5 (thousand tonnes) which is an increase of around 60% since 2015-16. Rice accounts for 80% of the total foodgrains production in 2020-21 and the production of rice has increased by 70% since 2015-16. In comparison to Andhra Pradesh, the production of rice in 2015-16 was 60% higher than Telangana. However, in 2020-21, the rice production in Telangana surpassed the production in Andhra Pradesh by 23%.
Several government schemes aid the growth of agriculture in Telangana. One of the most significant ones that have contributed the most in Telangana is the 24/7 free power supply and lift irrigation projects. Lift irrigation projects made access to water easy and efficient, contributing to the increase in crop yields and overall land under cultivation. As of 2023, there are 27 lakh borewells in Telangana, 65 thousand crore were transferred under Rythu Bandhu scheme, and almost all the claims under Rythu Bheema are addressed. According to N Raghunandan Rao, secretary to government, Agriculture Cooperation Department, Telangana, the current and planned initiatives of Telangana government in the agriculture sector are aimed at making agriculture a profitable and proud profession.
As per an article published in The Hindu, Telangana has scaled a new high in the cultivation of Rabi (Yasangi) crops as they were raised on a record extent of nearly 69.24 lakh acres so far in this agriculture year (2022-23), including paddy on about 53.71 lakh acres, which is also a record. The previous record for the Rabi season was in 2020-21, when the total extent was over 68.14 lakh acres and that of paddy was 52.79 lakh acres. Such a rapid and exponential increase reveals that the model Telangana adopted is worth studying and perhaps, gives a Telangana model of agricultural development.
Furthermore, government efforts related to seeds and fertilisers, pest control, milling, and processing are also ongoing that continue to aid the agricultural production of Telangana and have also provided a better market for farmers. Additionally, the successful outcomes of policies are also related to farm mechanisation, crop diversification, and extension support.
The sudden improvements in the agriculture sector raise inquisitiveness. Despite the fact that irrigation projects like Kaleshwaram have been criticised a lot, they have aided in the increase of groundwater levels, rejuvenation of failed wells and ponds, improvement of vegetation in barren lands, and creation of micro-climate. All these factors prompt us to dig deeper into this development and trace the causal factors.
Irrespective of whether research has been conducted to understand the nitty gritties of the recent developments in agriculture, the future prospects of the agriculture sector in Telangana have tremendous potential for growth. Some of the key areas of focus for the sector include the following.
Further diversification of crops: Telangana is known for its cultivation of paddy and cotton. However, there is a need to diversify the crops to include horticulture crops, such as fruits and vegetables. This would not only provide a better market for farmers but also increase the income of farmers.
Adoption of technology: Adoption of modern technology in agriculture, such as precision farming, drone technology, and artificial intelligence is also currently essential. This would help farmers to make informed decisions and improve their crop yields.
Focus on Nutrition: There is a need for a shift towards farming practices that prioritise nutrition and health over merely increasing crop yields. Nutrition-based farming involves the use of diverse cropping patterns, crop rotation, and intercropping to produce a variety of crops that provide a balanced diet. This approach also involves the use of organic and natural farming practices that help to reduce the use of chemical inputs and promote soil health. It is essential to promote awareness among farmers about the importance of nutrition-based farming and to provide them with the necessary training and resources to adopt these practices.
Impact of climate change: The sector is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as increased temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, and more frequent extreme weather events. Hence, it is necessary to deliberate on the government’s efforts to address the same through promotion of climate-resilient crops and water management practices.
In conclusion, agriculture in Telangana has come a long way since the state’s formation in 2014. However, challenges such as erratic weather conditions, water scarcity, and the need for better market access remain. To sustain and enhance the gains made so far, it is vital for the government and stakeholders to continue working together to address these challenges. This includes investing in climate-smart agriculture, encouraging innovation and technology adoption, and improving infrastructure and connectivity to markets.
Overall, agriculture remains a significant contributor to Telangana’s economy and has the potential to further drive inclusive growth and development in the state. It is essential to prioritize and support the sector’s growth to ensure a sustainable future for both farmers and the state as a whole. Reiterating the earlier argument, it would be great to understand the causal effects of initiatives taken by the government from 2014, changed socio-cultural and economic conditions that aided the growth of agriculture in Telangana.
Moumita Burman and Arun Teja Polcumpally are research scholars at Centre for Development Policy and Practice (CDPP)